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The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

Laissez-faire it is not.

  • 8 January 2016

The controversies stoked by the higher education green paper continue to be in the news, not least because of our own response to the green paper (which was published yesterday).

That is as it should be, because the volume of proposals on higher education emanating from the Government since they entered office in May is staggering.

I have a new piece in BBK, a magazine produced by Birkbeck, which looks at the pace of change since the general election and how the sector might lobby on the green paper.

The piece is available at and begins as follows:

Harold Wilson is thought to have said, ‘A week is a long time in politics.’ In higher education policy at least, the Government elected in May 2015 has confirmed politicians can do a lot in a short space of time.

In their first few months in office, for example, Ministers announced: a new Teaching Excellence Framework to evaluate the quality of university instruction; a renewed emphasis on widening participation so that there are more first-in-family students; a swifter entry regime for new higher education providers; an exit regime for unviable courses and institutions; the abolition of student maintenance grants; a freeze in the £21,000 student loan repayment threshold; an increase in the age limits and repayment terms for the new postgraduate loans; more financial support for part-time students; a restructuring of the Research Councils; and a revamp of higher education regulation. To ensure the new system operates as  it is meant to, Ministers also promised a higher education bill would set a new legal framework. Laissez-faire it is not.


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